Do-it-yourself crafts and decorations are a good way to bring the family together over Christmas without gouging out the wallet. Evolving primarily from yuletide traditions of the Pennsylvania Dutch, miniature Christmas villages have become a staple for many families. Rather than falling back on the store-bought variety, use everyday household items and inexpensive incidentals from local craft stores to create a Christmas town.
Peruse catalogs and online sites that feature Christmas villages for inspiration, then lay out a rough sketch of what your village should look like.
Create a foundation with Styrofoam. Cut the Styrofoam to create different sized squares and rectangles. Glue the various sizes on top of one another to create levels for the village.
Spread out newspaper and place the assembled village platform in the center.
Pour the gesso over the Styrofoam, letting dollops gather thicker in some places than others. Let it dry and create an ice cream--like surface of freshly fallen snow.
Gather cereal boxes, tissue boxes, pasta boxes, cylinder oatmeal containers and pint-sized ice cream containers, and cut holes for windows and doors. Create the likes of Main Street houses, Victorian mansions, barns, farm silos or medieval towers. Glue them in the desired pattern.
Measure and cut sheets of paper that have brick, gravel or cobbled-stone patterns to fit the sides of houses or the layout of walkways.
Collect sticks, twigs and hardy evergreens. Using a drop of glue, root them in the Styrofoam to create forests and tree gardens.
Break old CDs and fashion them in a mosaic-like pattern to create ponds. Another option is to pop out mirrors from old compact cases and glue them to the surface.
Populate the village with small figurines.